WAUSAU, Wis. (August 3, 2019) – It had been nearly three years since Casey Johnson visited Victory Lane in a TUNDRA Super Late Model Series event. The long wait ended Saturday night at State Park Speedway as he stormed to the win in Round Five Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes.
Johnson started 14th on the grid, took advantage of the outside line on several restarts, and captured the lead on lap 48 of the 75-lap affair. The win was his first since sealing the 2016 Championship with a win on September 16 of that year at Jefferson Speedway.
Although he captured an overall bonus for the twin 55s at Dells Raceway Park last season, the defending TUNDRA Champion said there is nothing quite like being the first across the line. “Unless you take the checkered, you’re not actually winning,” Johnson said. “We were finally able to cross the line. I joke with my guys, ‘We have a TUNDRA race coming up, we’ll probably finish Second or Third like we always do.’ It’s just a challenging series.”
Jordan Devoy and Kevin Knuese led the field the green with Devoy gaining an early advantage. As the field settled in for the first ten laps, the inside line proved to be the preferred groove. Jeremy Lepak moved to Second and began to pressure Devoy for the lead.
The first caution of the race came on lap 17 and ended the day of Mike Lichtfeld. On the restart Johnson and Justin Mondeik made some gains. Johnson was able to move to sixth by choosing the outside line and Mondeik followed him into the next row. The outside line faded a bit after the restart, but Mondeik slipped free and soon found himself in the Top Four.
Another caution for Chad Butz, Joel Theisen, and John Beale brought the action to a halt on lap 30. This time Lepak joined Devoy on the front row. Johnson followed to the outside line and would be side-by-side with defending race winner Mark Mackesy. Mondeik elected to stay on the inside line.
When the green fell, Lepak held strong on the high side and claimed the lead. His lead was short-lived, however, as a caution fell when Neil Knoblock slowed and stalled on the track. Lepak elected the high side for the restart and again hold strong for several laps. However, Devoy regained the lead and brought Johnson along. Lepak was then forced to deal with Mackesy, Mondeik, and Jordan Thiel, who had cruised into the Top Five from his 22nd Place starting spot.
Johnson hounded Devoy for five laps, awaiting an opening. That opening finally came when he was able to get to the inside on lap 47. By the time the field hit the backstretch Johnson had taken the lead. He then was able to build his advantage.
“We took advantage of a couple of those early barrels,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys want to stay on the bottom, so we tried doing the track position deal and it worked out. You never know how it’s going to play out and you just have to roll the dice sometimes.”
Devoy was then left to joust with Mackesy and Thiel. Mackesy found his way past on lap 60, but Johnson’s lead was too large to overcome. Devoy held on for Third with an enormous amount of pressure from Thiel. Mondeik rounded out the Top Five. State Park Speedway regulars Brock Heinrich and Travis Volm enjoyed solid days by placing Sixth and Seventh.
The night was exactly what Johnson needed as he seeks his third TUNDRA Championship and second in a row. With fast time, the win, and having passed the most cars, he stretched his advantage to 73 points over now-runner-up Gabe Sommers. Beale fell to Third and is 97 points out. Justin Mondeik trails him by only two markers.
The final event of the 2019 TUNDRA Super Late Model Series takes place Monday, September 2 (Labor Day) at Golden Sands Speedway in Plover, Wis. Due to the cancellation of Round Four, the race will feature four new tires instead of three and will go extra distance – the Cleaver 108. Support divisions will be confirmed soon.
Golden Sands Speedway is located on Highway 54 between Plover and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. For more information visit http://www.gssraces.com.